It’s official – being on the water and going boating is great for your health and your physical and mental wellbeing. In addition, it’s brilliant news that from the end of this month, everyone can officially get back to their boats for maintenance work and that the rule of 6 or 2 households applies for going boating too.
We all know that getting outside is important and this has been crucial during the pandemic. It’s been a tough time for everyone, but the good news is that boating, especially from somewhere as beautiful as Thornham Marina in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will be good for us all! Studies in both the UK and USA now prove that being on or near the water is a great boost for mental health and well-being.; So let’s do it!
A study by Exeter University in 2019 shows that people living near the sea are 22% less likely to have anxiety or depression symptoms. Researchers in Canada in 2018 indicate that people living or spending time near the water increases their life.
There’s a lot more good reasons to get back to your boat and get ready for this season. Read on!
American scientist, Dr Wallace J Nichols reports that boating can be considered a type of medicine for reducing stress. In a similar way to why some UK doctors are now prescribing gardening, his research confirms what many boaters have known for years – boating improves our emotional, behavioural and psychological health. A marine biologist, Dr Nichols’ studies explore the wellness benefits and how boating is good for your health. He describes how most people are normally overworked, overly connected and ‘always on’ to their devices. Stress, anxiety and fear cause high-stress hormones, which he calls your Red Mind. In contrast, your Blue Mind is the one you discover when you go boating.
Your Blue Mind says Nichols is when we literally and metaphorically ‘disconnect and log out’. Boating helps to create the calm, peace and happiness associated with water, which in turn triggers a more restful state of mind. Moving away from screens, day to day stresses and getting back out on the water gives your brain a break, and a chance to reset. When we spend time on the water, it allows our bodies, eyes, ears and internal systems to literally get a break too. Your brain can focus on other things without outside distractions or stimulations which allows it to regain some ‘bandwidth’. As you start to relax your brain uses itself for other things, such as meditation or deeper thinking, as well as play and creativity.
On a boat feel-good hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin increase, whilst cortisol (stress hormone) goes down. Lowering stress levels is particularly important for your health.
With school closures and the stresses of the pandemic, many young people have struggled with disrupted education and social time. Studies by the RYA and Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation (ASSF) show how sailing can also play an important role in young people’s mental and physical well-being. The University of Exeter published a study for ASSF in 2020 confirming sailing is a potential pathway to help young people increase and enhance physical activity, which enables those classified and sedentary to gradually become more active. Happiness, fun and enjoyment, risk-taking, adventure and blue environment elements were all consistent positive findings for both genders across their research studies.
Professor Bill Lucas from the University of Winchester works with the RYA on the OnBoard programme – a grassroots scheme run at clubs and sailing centres UK-wide for young people to start sailing or windsurfing. His studies indicate that sailing builds resilience, teamwork and self-esteem, which help to develop essential life skills including confidence, communication and independence.
As you start getting back out on the water, how about taking the kids or grand-children out with you too? Or even your friend’s children? There’s plenty of beautiful, sheltered places to explore, anchor up, relax and swim in safety in Chichester Harbour.
The best way to relax and enjoy every minute you have afloat is to ensure your boat is fully prepared for the season. There’s nothing worse than interrupting your planned beach BBQ by getting up to your arms in oil and grease doing unforeseen engine maintenance!
Getting your boat ready in the spring is worth every minute you spend, to maximise those dazzling days on the water on board your pride and joy.